NACAC recognizes that adoption creates a dynamic of its own that requires the commitment of families and communities alike. Children and youth adopted from foster care or from other countries have often experienced abuse, neglect, and abandonment, which may lead to unique post-adoption needs. In addition, throughout an adopted child’s life, there are expected developmental stages that may require additional support. Children adopted through private domestic adoption and their adoptive families must also have access to services and supports as common developmental issues arise and adoption-informed services can prevent an unnecessary crisis.
For adoptions to succeed, NACAC strongly believes that high-quality post-adoption services must be available to meet the needs of the adopted children and teens, their parents, and all members of the adoptive family.
Policy and Practice Recommendations
Post-adoption services must be available to families—including the adopted children or teens, all other members of the adoptive family, and the birth parents—whenever they are needed. Preventive and proactive services are more effective and more cost-effective than crisis-oriented services, which are often slow to be approved and may come too late. Each state, province, and First Nations or tribe should develop a system for ensuring that all families who adopt children and youth with special needs—especially children and youth adopted from the foster care system or internationally —have access to the services described below. NACAC also urges governments at all levels (federal, state, provincial, territorial, tribal, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, etc.) to fund post-adoption services in the U.S. and Canada.
Agencies that provide placement services for children and youth have an obligation to assure that adoptive families receive ongoing supportive services either directly or through linkages with other appropriate service providers. Professionals working with individuals touched by adoption have an obligation to avail themselves of ongoing, accredited adoption-competent training.\
Services should be provided by people and organizations that are adoption-competent and trauma-informed, and should include (but not be limited to) the following:
- contact from the agency or post-adoption service provider at the time of placement to explain the specific child or youth’s need for post-placement support and available services that will be helpful to that specific child or youth and family
- complete information about the child or youth’s social, medical, and behavioral history, including experiences with the birth family and any previous foster or adoptive families, as well as what the history may mean for the child or youth’s future
- information and referral from a single entry point
- support groups for adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees
- recreational and other activities for children and teens
- support for connections with birth parents and other birth family members and former foster families, whenever possible
- ongoing training and educational resources
- respite care
- case management services
- advocacy and support for school-related issues and other challenges
- adoption assistance payments (subsidy for children and youth adopted from foster care)
- other financial assistance when needed
- crisis intervention or other intensive services for families who are struggling
- mental health services, including therapeutic counseling, in-home and residential services
When a child or youth is adopted from foster care, he or she should continue to receive the same benefits and services as he or she received in foster care as long as his or her needs have not changed. In fact, additional services should be provided when necessary to meet the child or youth’s needs and maintain permanency, even as those needs change over time.